Warwickshire will aim to maintain their recent improvement in the Specsavers County Championship when they take on Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl tomorrow.
The Bears have bounced back from two defeats at the start of the season with two draws, in the second of which, against Somerset at Taunton, they were in a dominant position which rain prevented them from turning into a victory.
Tomorrow they face a Hampshire side which sits third in Division One, having started the season strongly with two wins, two draws and a defeat from five games.
But the Bears, in seventh place, are only 35 points behind Hampshire with a game in hand, which shows how tight the early league table is. With just eight teams in Division One now, all is still very much to play for – and, after a disappointing start, Warwickshire are moving in the right direction.
It would be great to get off the mark with our first win but we know we will have to play very good cricket to do that. Hampshire have started well after making some good acquisitions and they are always a very competitive side.Jim Troughton
“I was pleased with the performance at Taunton,” said first team coach Jim Troughton. “It was an improvement again on the previous game.
“Jonathan Trott put his hand up and played the sort of innings we want from our top five and other players batted round him. Then the bowlers did really well to have Somerset following on and it was a bit ironic that our victory push was scuppered by rain. We could have done with a bit of that earlier in the season!
“Now we have got to show the same qualities at the Ageas Bowl. It would be great to get off the mark with our first win but we know we will have to play very good cricket to do that. Hampshire have started well after making some good acquisitions and they are always a very competitive side.”
Warwickshire welcome Ireland internationals William Porterfield and Boyd Rankin back to the squad after international duty and injury respectively. Following a bout of back trouble, Rankin returns to the group at a ground at which, in 2009, he delivered one of the most memorable spells for the Bears in recent years.
On the final day of a rain-affected draw (during which Tony Frost took his only ever first-class wicket!) Rankin found his rhythm to spectacular effect, forcing Dimitri Mascarenhas to retire hurt and dismissing Michael Lumb, John Crawley and Liam Dawson.
“Yes, I remember it well,” said Troughton, who was in the Bears team that day. “Boyd spent a session sending down absolute rockets. He’s got a bit of form down there and it’s good to have him back in the squad but we’ll have a look at the pitch and the conditions and then think about how we want to shape our attack. We’ve got good options with Grant Thornton and Sunny Singh having done so well at Somerset.”
Jeetan Patel is unavailable as he is with New Zealand for the ICC Champions Trophy while Hampshire will be missing England Lions pair James Vince and Liam Dawson.
- Ian Bell (Captain)
- Tim Ambrose (Wicket-Keeper)
- Keith Barker
- Rikki Clarke
- Sam Hain
- Oliver Hannon-Dalby
- William Porterfield
- Josh Poysden
- Boyd Rankin
- Sunny Singh
- Grant Thornton
- Jonathan Trott
- Andy Umeed
- Ian Westwood